Dear Mother Who Is Struggling

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Dear Mother Who Is Struggling,

I know you haven’t been yourself lately.

I see it in the way your eyes no longer carry the light the way they used to, their colour faded; like an old photograph that once held a cherished memory, now lost.

Your frown lines have deepened, they outnumber the lines of laughter that once etched the sides of your face, back when your joyful smile would reach that far, back when your shoulders were straight and the weight of your tiredness didn’t pull you down.

You love your babies, I know you do.

But this is hard.

And you are tired. So damn tired.

And maybe this is what adds to the tiredness; the guilt that you shouldn’t feel this way. You wonder if you’re the only mother out there who feels so isolated, so alone, so exhausted. Or do they all have these villages you hear of; support networks of family and friends who share the burden of raising a family, while you wake up each morning and wonder how you will get through another day on your own.

Surrounded by little people, noise, clutter, you find yourself lonelier than ever. But it’s not a loneliness from being alone. It’s a loneliness that comes from being so far from yourself, so far from who you once were. You don’t even know who that is anymore. You feel as though you’ve traded your whole identity to be a mother. Sacrificed your entire life to care for those around you. This is all you know now. This is all your life has become.

And you miss the woman you once were, and the life you once had.

You long for your independence, your spontaneity, your carefree. For road trips and dinner dates and live music and nights out in the city. For beach days and lazy Sundays in bed and to read a book, uninterrupted. Drained, you yearn for the things that bring nurture to your tired body and soul as you force yourself through another day on the scarce remnants of what you have left to give.

I know this is hard. But take heart, dear one.

It won’t always be this way. It won’t always be so hard. Days will get easier. There will be more moments to be still, to breathe, more moments to laugh again. There will be more moments where you can reach inside and find the misplaced pieces of the woman you used to be, and the days will begin to feel less lonely as you journey back to your own heart.

I know you think the way you struggle makes you a failure. That because of this, you fall short and aren’t enough. Don’t believe these lies. Be gentle on your heart, for every day you face the hardest job, alone, and you make it through.

No matter how hard, you don’t give up. You show up, and continue to do the best with what you have. And some days that may not seem like enough.

But every day, you continue to love.

And that will always be more than enough.

I know this is hard. But for now, this is all you need to know.

This too shall pass.

And when you close your eyes tonight, write those words on the back of your eyelids, and watch as they fall away beneath your skin and seep into your bloodstream where they will reach your heart and kiss it with the hope that will get you through your tomorrows.

You may not feel it today, but I promise you, my love – you’ve got this.

To The One I Cannot Be With At This Time

To the One I Cannot be with at This Time.

No matter how I try, I cannot get to you. And believe me, I have tried.

I have sought every possible way of crossing closed borders without getting caught.

I have stood empty handed in every airport hoping for a flight that was never called.

I have calculated how long it would take me to walk to you (approximately 55 days and 7 hours) and imagined your face as I arrive on your doorstep. How it would light up with your smile that melts me every time. How you would pick me up in your arms. How you would never set me down again.

I have cried rivers hoping they would become oceans that would somehow close this land between us.

I have yelled and screamed and argued and bargained and still, I am found defeated and it kills me that I cannot be with you at this time but this, my darling, is how I will love you in the distance…

For the long distance lovers held apart by distance at this time, I wrote this for you, full article over at Elephant Journal, link below x

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2020/04/the-meaning-of-distance-in-times-of-isolation/

Day Two #coronapoetry – Flow

Day Two

Ebb: To move away from the land
Flow: To move back towards it

The grapevine releases its leaves: this too shall pass.

Tell me of the ways grief will release from this body.
How it will collect wherever the leaves go in winter.

How the rains will come and wash this sorrow away
the same way floods came but not before the country

first burned. Dead wood piled upon dead wood.
Trauma upon trauma. Cleaning the wounds while

reopening the scars. Tell me of the ways a river
surrenders to the ebb and flow of the ocean.

How I too will learn to stop running and move back
towards this land that is mine.

How We Can Be Aware Without Becoming Afraid

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Amidst both the internal and external chaos of this time, I continue to try and find moments where I can be still and quiet and lean into my emotions as I process all that is happening.

It’s difficult to grasp how I’m feeling; my emotions are so fast-moving I can barely keep up. I’ve been too unanchored to write for weeks now, constantly dragged back into news cycles and social media feeds and the conflicting opinion of a thousand so-called experts.

As I sit today and take a moment to see where I’m at, I realise of all the emotions, the predominant one I find myself stuck in, is fear.

I have always had the sense of being a small girl in a big and terrifying world. This is often the outcome of childhood trauma and abuse; that as children we weren’t protected from harm by those we trusted to keep us safe. We felt so very small in a world we identified as frightening, dangerous and unsafe. We learned no one is there to protect us so we must protect ourselves.

From this we become adults who are excessively independent, autonomous; often detached. We feign toughness on the outside while quietly living in a state of fear and anxiety on the inside, afraid at any moment the world is going to close in on us. Always guarded and grabbing at some semblance of control all the while knowing control is nothing more than an illusion we pretend will keep us safe even as we know it won’t.

As we journey through these uncertain times I find the biggest battle I face each day is the one in my own mind; to somehow overcome the fear that grips my chest so tight I have to remember to breathe. It is so easy for this fear to collapse into despair; from there, hopelessness.

I constantly have to navigate the line between being aware of what’s happening in the world without becoming afraid. To mindfully choose to not live in the hypothetical future but stay in the present moment.

It isn’t about pretending the fear doesn’t exist or using toxic positivity as a way of minimising it. Fear is a normal human response to times of global crisis and upheaval, and serves its purpose. It’s understandable and expected to feel fear during these times and it’s good for us to acknowledge that we are afraid.

However, remaining in fear does not serve us. As much as it’s important to lean into it, so is the importance of finding a way to release it.

The only way I have found to do this is to shift my focus. I cannot control or change the external circumstances. The only thing I can control and change is my focus, and my own response to the world at this time. For me, this is finding moments of still and quiet, and focusing on the present.

Reminding myself:

In this moment, I am safe.
In this moment, I am healthy.
In this moment, I have all I need.
In this moment, I am okay.

It is connecting to my breath once more. It is gentle movement. It is meditation and prayer. It is leaning upon my faith. It is accepting I cannot control any of this, but can only trust in the collective goodness of our humanity; that we will emerge on the other side of this stronger, yet gentler somehow.

It is time away from news and social media, and more time in relationship with loved ones, both in real life and online. It is sitting outside watching the leaves change colour, being reminded everything has a season and this too shall pass. It is learning how to choose joy and peace even when our external circumstances would dictate otherwise.

It’s okay to be afraid. These times are hard, and we are exhausted. But living in a constant state of fear is more exhausting.

Allow yourself to acknowledge the fear; to lean into it, become familiar with it, feel it, recognise it for what it is. Some days it will be an underlying awareness. Some days it will be a paralysing tsunami.

Allow it to come, and then let it go again. Shift your focus to the present moment where right now, you’re okay. This burden of fear is not yours to carry. Lay it down, and walk lighter.

We’ve got this.

On Finding Hope In The Midst Of Despair

It’s been a tough week.

My anxiety levels have been high; even when I think I’m doing okay there is still a constant, underlying sense of unease and unrest. I’ve not slept much. It’s difficult not to despair and wonder what the point of anything is right now anyway. As a freelancer it’s hard to find commissioned work at this time with COVID-19 dominating the media, as a performance poet it’s hard to find the motivation to write when all my upcoming features will likely be cancelled anyway.

It’s hard not to worry, to panic, to try and grasp control of anything we can at this time. It’s hard to focus, to concentrate, to not check news updates and social media a thousand times a day no matter how unhelpful it is for our mental health.

Most of all, it’s hard to find hope.

We’re all in survival mode. It’s exhausting. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know how to define our normal anymore. Everything is so uncertain.

But I went for a walk on the beach today. The wind was fierce, the ocean stirred up. I remembered today is the Autumnal Equinox and that an old farmer once told me about the equinox winds that blow every year in March and September; the sending out of one season, the ushering in of another.

It reminded me that all things are made new; that this is how the universe has always worked. That for new life to be born there must always be death; the dropping of leaves, the exploding of stars, the falling of blossom to make way for fruit, the fading of night before a new day can begin.

Suffering has always been part of the narrative. There is much we don’t understand. But we are part of something so much bigger than we can see. It’s easy to feel small, and lost, and alone, and afraid right now. We can’t see the bigger picture. But we can keep showing up in love, and hope, and kindness anyway knowing every second, every breath, is grace.

Knowing sometimes we have to endure the suffering to witness the transformation.

My Love, You Deserve It All

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You are worthy to be here.

You are worthy to occupy this space.

You know this.

You know it deep in your core where the fire quietly burns. You know it in the stillness of the night when you dare to whisper your dreams to the night sky. You know this is your moment to claim, this space to call yours. Be not afraid to reach out and take hold of it. Do not fear your greatness. Do not fear your worthiness. Do not believe the scars of your heart; the ones that tell you that you don’t deserve this.

My love, you deserve it all.

You deserve the joy and the success, the moments of wonder, this love you never expected. You deserve the unfolding of all you have worked toward, of every breath you have held with timid anticipation, daring not to hope. All the universe has given is yours to take. This space was yours from the start; waiting for you to hold it close and call it yours. It has always been yours to fill, written into the script of your life.

It belongs to you. It is only you who needs to believe it. Who needs to own it without fear, without explanation, without apology, without justification.

You are worthy.

You are deserving.

Everything you have ever hoped for is waiting for you to take hold of and call yours.

Be not afraid.

The world is waiting for you.

It’s Okay To Change Our Mind

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It’s okay to change our mind.

It’s okay to decide the direction we thought we were going is no longer the right way for us anymore.

To stop and ask ourselves:

Is this really what I want? Does this bring joy, and purpose, and meaning to my life? Does this continue to serve me? Am I doing this because I still want to or because I feel like I have to?

Accepting we are no longer happy with a particular aspect of our life can be difficult. It can feel like failure. Like, maybe if we just try harder. Put in more effort. Do this differently, or that better, or whatever. But if what we’re doing continues to make us unhappy, it’s time to ask ourselves why we’re still holding onto it, and if the outcome is worth it.

We are never more out of alignment with ourselves than when we choose to not live in our truth. When we try and make something work for us that just, isn’t. For fear of failure. For fear of losing status. For fear of losing identity. For fear of the uncomfortable. For fear of the unknown.

It’s okay to change our mind. When we are burned out and frustrated and unhappy and find no joy and struggle to face another day. When we feel stagnant and defeated and like we’re going around in circles. We need not ask permission. We need not explain, or apologise, or justify our choices to anyone.

It isn’t defeat. It isn’t failure. It’s a surrendering to that which we are already called to. We were never meant to stay the same; change is growth and transformation and how we become the person we were created to be.

When we resist change and stand outside of our own truth, it will always lead to suffering. Changing our mind and choosing a new direction will often be unsettling and terrifying. But sometimes we have to feel the fear and do it anyway, remembering one of the most rebellious things we will ever do is choose to not just exist, but live.

~ K x

6 Reasons Valentine’s Day Should Be Cancelled, Stat

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This week during an interview on The Project, Michael Bublé — Mr. Love himself — dropped a shocking revelation that he’s actually not that romantic.

Instead, Bublé tells us he’s just a guy who likes to watch football and eat nachos and drink beer, and look, as a bona-fide celebrity myself these days, I’m here to tell you the struggle of such mistaken perception is real. Oh, you write poetry? You must be so romantic.

And sure, I’ll confess I’ve been known to be swayed by the occasional small romantic gesture in my time. And there’s every chance I’m partial to dates that comprise of candles and wine, and old-fashioned men who still hold doors open for women and surprise them with offerings of hand-picked wildflowers or tenderly scrawled love notes.

But when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I’m right there with Bublé sitting in my trackies on the couch eating nachos, drinking beer and not listening to, well, albums by Michael Bublé. And I understand the confusion; how a romantic poet normal woman who writes about love can also be a Valentine’s Day insurgent, so to help clarify, I’ve compiled a list of all the reasons I think February 14th should be cancelled, stat.

1.   Expectation

Omg, we’ve only been dating for a month, do I actually have to get him something for Valentine’s day? We’ve been together fifteen years now, do I have to cook her dinner tonight when I just want to watch the game? She just rang to tell me her friend got engaged and I only got my girlfriend a box of chocolates, I’m totally screwed. GOD, THE PRESSURE I CAN’T BREATHE. This is especially true for the avoidant-attachments out there (I’m not terrified of commitment, you’re terrified of commitment), too much expectation on Valentine’s Day will send the relationship down. in. flames. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

2.   Obligation

Nothing says I love you more than being forced into gestures of commercialised romance; smarmy Hallmark cards, love-heart-shaped-everything, generic roses, maybe some OTT jewellery thrown in there too. Hey darling, looks like we can’t afford to get little Bobby braces this year but here are those diamond earrings you wanted for Valentine’s Day so you could show your sister up this year. Naaaw, and who said romance was dead?

3.   Cliché

Oh, how I love a good cliché, said no one ever. Clichés are the worst at the best of times, but never more so than where romance is concerned. Clichéd songs, clichéd movies. Flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, 50 Shades Of Grey <shudder>, pink and red lingerie, pink and red balloons, pink and red candles, WHY MUST EVERYTHING LOOK LIKE A FLAMINGO?! Think outside the box, people.

4.   Social Etiquette.

For many, Valentine’s Day raises the issue of social awkwardness — programmed as we are on special days to greet others accordingly, ie, happy birthday, happy New Year’s Day, happy Mother’s/Father’s Day, happy Australia Day etc. Do we say happy Valentine’s Day to people we pass on our morning jog? Our pharmacist? The grocery delivery guy? If we greet our work colleagues in such a manner will they think we’re practicing correct social etiquette or sexually harassing them? Genuine concerns the socially awkward among us lose sleep over.

5.   Lists

HOLD THE PHONE THERE IS ANOTHER TOP 10 LIST OF HOW I CAN CELEBRATE  VALENTINE’S DAY WITH MY LOVED ONE THIS YEAR. Or top 10 gifts I can buy. Or top 10 songs to put on my V-Day playlist. Or top 10 ways to make him fall in love with me this Valentine’s Day. Enough of the lists, already! Get out of my social media so I can return to my regular scheduled newsfeeds. Oh, wait.

6.   Social Media.

 If there’s anything more nauseating than regular Insta-perfect couple photos, it’s Insta-perfect couple photos on V-Day steroids. #besthusbandever #datenight #loveyoutothemoonandback #solucky. DEAR GOD IT HURTS MY EYES. Seriously, nobody wants to look at their friends getting engaged while they’re home on the couch getting drunk. Have the decency to keep that sh*t to yo’self.

You’re no doubt reading this thinking I’m just some cynic who’s been dumped one too many times, and look, you’d be right. We aren’t just born with these avoidant-attachment tendencies; it takes many years of rejection and abandonment to perfect such thorough aversion to relationships. 

It goes without saying then, I’m no expert in love. What I do know, however, is I’m not interested in token gestures of commercialised romance. I’m not interested in a declaration of love dictated by a calendar date or marketing strategy; in posting Instagram photos on February 14th just so I can prove to the world, look how much I am loved.

Give me the real stuff. Give me the Saturday night folding socks, the Sunday afternoon budgeting, the Monday morning alarm. Give me the exhausted falling into bed together after dealing with teenage children. Give me the arguing over whose turn it is to do the dishes, the laughter at times you’d rather be crying, the arms to collapse into when the world is falling apart, the hand gently squeezed to say, I’m here, even without words spoken, the carrying of one another’s pain and grief and sadness, the celebrating of success and joy and all those perfect moments never forgotten.

As the self-confessed non-romantic Bublé says, “I do kind things for my wife, but I think they’re different than buying flowers on Valentine’s Day, I think it’s, you know, doing the poopy diapers or waking up and letting her sleep in, I think those to me are romantic things.”

Anyone can practice romance one day of the year, but showing up for someone every day of the year? That takes some hard work, compromise and sacrifice. But will always carry a greater sentiment of love than a Hallmark card ever could.

 

The Three Words Our Children Need To Hear Most (Hint: It’s Not ‘I Love You’)

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There was a time not long ago when my thirteen year-old HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) daughter was feeling particularly sensitive to anything on television that unsettled her in the slightest – the news, high-action movies, television dramas with any kind of depiction of violence or trauma.

With two older brothers in the house — both partial to action-packed thrillers of any kind — it became increasingly difficult to find something suitable for everyone to watch. The traditional Friday movie night would see us spending hours scrolling through Netflix, arguing back and forth over what to watch until eventually my daughter insisted she was happy to just read a book in her bedroom so others could watch what they wanted.

There were a few times this happened; each time I would go to her room and tell her she didn’t need to read in her bedroom alone and we would find something everyone could watch together. She continued to insist she was fine with this arrangement. But I knew her better than that — this tender-hearted peacemaker daughter of mine who often sacrificed her own desires for that of others; so much like her mother.

I knew what she really wanted was to be with the rest of the family; to know she was important enough to have her needs considered. To know she was wanted enough for others to make sacrifices and compromises that would allow her to be included, even if they didn’t necessarily understand how her sensitivity made it difficult for her to watch movies they saw no issue with.

I knew this, because this had once been me — except, I’d had no one to advocate for my needs, and had instead grown up with a sense of isolation and exclusion from the rest of my family; left feeling unvalued and unseen. And it wasn’t until I said this to her one night as she read alone in her room: “It’s okay, I see you,” that her pretence of fine collapsed and she was able to tearfully admit that which I already knew.

I realised that day the importance of those three words. I see you. That to be seen is something we all crave; perhaps even more than to be loved. To be understood. For our true selves to be known by those who love us. That when we exist inside this place of being fully seen, here we find our safety; our greatest place of acceptance and belonging.

I recently read The Good People by Hannah Kent, and was reminded again of this with these words, “How frightened we are of being known, and yet how desperately we long for it.” There is something transformative in being seen — both in our weaknesses and strengths, our struggles and triumphs. To be seen in the whole person; the entirety of our flawed yet perfect humanity.

As parents, we tend to focus on the I love you; to remind our children of this as often as we can, which is, of course, vital and necessary to their lives and development. However, being loved and seen aren’t necessarily synonymous and while our children may know they are loved by us, if they don’t have a sense of also being seen, they may never feel completely understood, accepted and safe to flourish into their truest selves.

This is especially important for this generation of children whose identities are being developed inside such an virtual world — where they may have hundreds of friends online and yet still have a fundamental sense of loneliness and isolation in feeling as though they aren’t seen or understood by those around them.

We know this of ourselves; the innate need for human embrace; to be heard, to be accepted as we are, to be understood, to feel we are worthy enough to have someone show interest in our lives; more so, in who we are. There is a connection felt in those moments our own hearts crave — how much more the hearts of our children as they seek to find their identity and sense of worth in this hectic world.

As school holidays come to a close, I find myself journeying through the usual emotions – relief to once again return to some semblance of routine and work, coupled with guilt that I did not do enough with my children over summer — that I did not give them enough experiences and memories, that I had all this time with them, yet unsure whether anything valuable was gained from that, or not.

However, I don’t believe the measure for being a good parent is found in how many hours we spend with our children, but more in the ways we show up for them in the time we do have with them. We aren’t always going to get it right or be the perfect parent; we too have our own shortcomings and limitations. Likewise, we aren’t always going to have the amount time with them we often desire; life all too easily gets in the way.

But showing up and being aware, present and engaged is where it matters. Taking the time to see – really see – our children, knowing if we cannot fully see another person, we can never fully love them; only ever our own version of who we believe them to be. And in doing so, fail to give our children what they so desperately need from us the most.

Article originally published at 10 Daily   as The Three Most Important Words To Tell Your Kids (And They’re Not ‘I Love You’)